Race Forecast - Hackney, Argentina & everywhere in between

21 November 2014, 13:05

This seems to be the time of year where a lot of runners start planning out their races for the upcoming year. Lots of the big marathons have already done their ballot draws (London, Boston, and Berlin, to name a few), and as the nights draw in, it’s nice to have events on the horizon to look forward to.

My racing year isn’t fully finished – I’ve got two more races over the next two weekends before 2014’s medal count is in the bag, but I thought it’d be a good time to take stock of my plans for the coming year…

Three Molehills

(23 Nov) This one’s on Sunday – it’s by the same people who put on the magnificent Bacchus races, and has the same start and finish location, but they’ve somehow managed to put on a race both longer and hillier than the Bacchus half! This one’s 16 miles, and one of the three “mole hills” is actually Box Hill (infamous as the steepest hill in SE England – where the Olympic cyclists had their Tour de France moments). You then have two other massive hills besides! This one’s also run as a relay, which each team member taking about 6 miles (and one hill!) each, or you can run it solo, like myself and a few friends are doing. Solo entries are sold out, but there are a few relay team spaces available on the day. More info.

Bacchus - long climb
Running Bacchus half in 2013, through the same area as Three Molehills. But minus the fancy dress!

Greenwich Park Movember Run 10k

(29 Nov) I joked with a friend that the only way to make the Greenwich Movember course seem short and flat was to run an even longer, hillier race the weekend before it! This race is two laps through Greenwich Park, taking in quite a few of the park’s legendary hills along the way, all in aid of the Movember men’s health charities. A friend at Run dem Crew organises a team every year since it’s a charity very close to his heart, so I’ll be running this with at least 100 other crew members, and it should have great crowd support, too (I should know, as I cheered last year!). Astonishingly, entries are still not yet sold out, but they are sure to very soon. More info.

Cambridge Half Marathon

(8 March) I’ve been wanting to run this race ever since they started it a few years ago, but it sells out within hours every time, and I’m never quite quick enough. So I was super happy when my friend Laura tweeted when registration opened, and I managed to snag a spot! It’s a fast, flat, two-lap course through the town centre, and it’s close enough to London that I can get the train up and back on the day and not have to worry about hotel expenses. Plus, I’ve got a friend up there who’s invited me out for a pub lunch afterwards, result! Entries are completely sold out, as predicted. More info.

London marathon
Running London marathon this year, coming through the Mile 21 cheer station

London Marathon

(26 April) Yes, I’m running “the biggie” again! Since I ran 2014’s race in a fast time, I qualified for a “Good for Age” (GFA) place into next year’s race. This means I didn’t have to cross my fingers in the general ballot, or be tied to a fundraising amount for a charity place. I had a brilliant experience running for Anthony Nolan this year, but I’ve already got to fundraise an awful lot to get to Argentina in August, and I don’t want to fatigue the goodwill of family and friends. Several people have commented that they’re surprised I didn’t choose to run Boston marathon since I qualified, but it and London are very close together, and I couldn’t really do both. London is my local marathon, and much, much cheaper for me to run, plus I have the advantage of knowing the route well this year. Ballot and GFA entries are now sold out, but some charities still have places. More info.

London 10,000

(25 May) This was my first ever 10k race when I ran the inaugural event back in 2008 in an absolute downpour, and it was such a great experience that the thought of running it again one day powered me on through my illness and bone marrow transplant the following year, and I’ve returned to run it pretty much every year since (even when it was the weekend after a marathon following a full week of international business travel!). There’s another summer 10k around central London that is an absolute train wreck of woeful organisation every single year, and costs about twice the price of this race. Do not be confused – the London 10,000 is impeccably run every single year, has a great course, and is a joy to run, even when it’s raining. It’s just about the only race I’ll sign up for a full year in advance. Entries are still available now, but it does sell out every year. More info.

Run Hackney

(10 May) I waited on the fence for the inaugural running of this race last year, finally succumbing to the Fear Of Missing Out just before it sold out. I had friends who flew in from the continent just to run it, and the hot weather made for a fantastic, carnival-esque atmosphere both on the course and in the park afterwards. You can read my full report here, but the short version is that it was an impressive race considering it was the first time one had really been done in that area (let’s all try and forget the abysmal East London Half, shall we?). The race organisers are putting on a bunch more races this year (including Bath Half, which I thoroughly enjoyed this year), so I’m confident this will be a fun one to run again, especially if I just run it as an easy diversion to all my track training! Entries are still open, and are at a special £5-cheaper early bird rate right now (believe me – they don’t get any cheaper if you wait around!). More info

Maja & I at Hackney Half
At Run Hackney this year, pacing my friend Maja (left) through her first ultra-distance run

British Transplant Games

(30 July – 2 Aug) I’m now in my 5th year since a stranger saved my life with a bone marrow transplant, and this will be my 3rd year competing for King’s College Hospital in track and field. I’m interested to see how my times in the Mini marathon (3k), 1500m, 800m, 400m, and 200m will compare to past years, since I’ll be training far harder this year in preparation for the bi-annual World Transplant Games later in the month (see below). Next year’s British games will be held in Newcastle, and will be the only event I’m planning on traveling to – otherwise keeping costs down as low as possible since the World Games will cost a lot of money. But in Newcastle, I’ll be looking to retain my Mini Marathon trophy as well as take as many god medals home as possible! Registration is not yet open for the BTG, but if you know someone who’s had a bone marrow or organ transplant from a donor, get in touch with the Transplant Sport team leader for your transplant hospital. More info

Melissa running the 1500m
Competing in the 1500m final at the British Transplant Games this year

World Transplant Games

(23-30 Aug) This is the biggie for me – my “A race” for the coming year! I’ve been selected to represent Great Britain in track and field, so I am going to train my absolute hardest to earn some gold medals for my country! The World games are taking place in Plata del Mar, Argentina, next year, so the costs are going to be considerable. I really, really, need help to fundraise to cover the costs of accommodation, flights, competition insurance, Team GB kit, and travel to the Team GB training days. I talked in depth about what selection to these Games means to me, and how it really is a celebration of life for all the competitors who would certainly be dead were it not from the goodwill of another person (many of whom had to die in the process). They’ve just announced the competition schedule, which is nicely spread out over the week for me – the 5km Road Race on Monday, the 1500m and 400m on Friday, and the 800m and 4×400m relay on Saturday (the 200m is also on Saturday so it’s likely I’ll drop that). You will hear an awful lot more about this from me over the coming year! Selection for Team GB has concluded, so if you want to be in the running for the next WTG in 2017, you need to compete in the next BTG (see above). More info

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